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Planning on building my first computer, need advice please

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August 25, 2008 3:10:36 PM

Hello,
I plan to build my first computer to take to school this Fall. I am pretty much a newbie when it comes to computers and only recently realized how much I've been overpaying in the past from buying brand name computers.

So, during these past couple weeks, I've read up as much as I could on building a computer and configured a low-budget PC on Newegg that I could take to school (I am on a pretty low budget - below $800, not including the monitor, keyboard, mouse, and speakers because I already have old ones that I can use).

I would like to know a few things about the configuration I chose:
1) Am I missing anything? Do I need to buy any cooling units, screws, software, or other missing parts?
2) Would this configuration actually work if I manage to assemble all of the parts correctly?
3) Are these parts of decent quality and is the overall configuration worth the total price?
4) Is there anything you would recommend?

I know I am asking for a lot by posting this request, but I will be forever grateful for any help I receive. If building my own PC does not work out, I'll be stuck with going to Best Buy or Circuit City and buying one of the pre-built systems there.

A couple things to keep in mind are that I'm not very computer savvy, but I've had intense many-hour sessions of reading up on computer parts and general information about computer hardware. Also, my primary concern is not about gaming. I just want to build a workable computer of decent quality that I can bring to school.

1)Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail
$99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2)ASUS P5K EPU LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $114.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3)CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - Retail
$87.00
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4)Seagate ST303204N1A1A-RK 320GB 7200 RPM IDE Ultra ATA100
Hard Drive - Retail
$79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5)ASUS 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model DRW-2014L1T - Retail
$36.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

6)MSI NX8500GT-TD512EH GeForce 8500 GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR2 PCI Express x16 Video Card - Retail
$56.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

7)Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 Wolfdale 2.53GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E7200 - Retail
$119.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

8)Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM
$99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

9) Anti-static wrist strap and Tool Kit $20

Total: $714.91 not including S/h

Lastly, are there any newbie-friendly guides out there that will help me to assemble the PC after I order parts?
August 25, 2008 3:24:31 PM

Hi djc; couple of comments for you:

- You have picked out an IDE hard drive you need to find an SATA one. Seagate 7200.10 is a good choice, or WD.

- If you aren't going to be gaming at all you could look at an onboard graphics solution. If you were to pick a board with a PCI-e 16x slot on it your could upgrade later.

- You might also want to think about a slightly faster processor if the budget will stretch it will just make things that little bit faster. An E8400 is +$50, or an E8500 is +$70. Still leaving you just under budget.

- Newbie guides? Try the internet then they are free! Otherwise there will be some instructions with the motherboard in all probability.

August 25, 2008 3:59:03 PM

wd 640gb hdd is only $85 and the best price per gb you are going to find.
what resolution is your monitor and how much do you game and what else do you use the computer for?

this 1.8v g.skill ram would save you $9 which would make up the $5 more you would spend on the hdd drive. good ram and standard timings.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

+1 to e8400 if you can spend the extra. since tight budget i wouldn't go up to the e8500 for an extra .16 ghz but that e8400 should work great. if you can't spend it then you aren't bad off with your choice that is a good cpu and can be oc'd. and depending on your usuage your money may be better spend on upgrading your graphics card.
Related resources
August 25, 2008 4:12:26 PM

Thank you for your replies. I considered both of your suggestions and switched the previous e7200 with the e8400. I also switched the old IDE HD with "EXCELSTOR Jupiter Series ESJ9250S 250GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA" http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... , but I'm not sure how well it will do considering the price.

Also, can I use my old Windows XP Home Edition OS cd that I got with my previous Gateway computer on this new PC? That way I can scrap the $100 Vista and use the funds for something else.

Final question: Are these the only parts I will need to build a PC?
August 25, 2008 4:17:49 PM

again, what are you using the computer for most? if gaming what kind of games? and what resolution is your monitor? will impact gpu decision

i have never heard of that hdd. would be a little concerned. that wd i recommended is a very good one and big. but maybe you could get more opinions since i don't know anything about Excelstor.

vista 64 bit is good and will take advantage of the full 4gb of ram. most the "issues" you may have heard about with vista are resolved and it has directx 10 which is nice for gaming. but again, computer use will play a role in the recommendation.

August 25, 2008 4:29:17 PM

Sorry for not answering in the previous post.
My monitor resolution is 1280x1024. I'll be using the computer mostly for school work, web browsing, videos, and occasional gaming. Being able to play some of the new games would be a nice feature (not expecting high settings or anything like that) but upgrades for gaming is something I can save up for later.

Also, I will look into that hdd that you mentioned. I have no grudge against Vista. I would just like to know if my old XP Home cd that I got with my gateway would work on this PC. Thanks again for the replies.
August 25, 2008 4:49:10 PM

For gaming, I would consider bumping up to a 9600gt dump the 8500gt. Or at least a 9600gso. I think those can be found for 80-90 bucks, not much more than your 8500gt, and while it's not the best gaming card, I don't think you would be dissapointed either.
August 25, 2008 5:02:14 PM

^+1 for 8800GS/9600GSO (Their both exactly the same cores)

+1 for the WD 640GB AAKS drive. I too wouldn't trust that Jupiter HDD.

Also consider getting the G.Skill RAM mentioned above as you won't have to mess with voltages with that RAM.
August 25, 2008 5:14:18 PM

Ok so I updated my configuration:

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 $169.99

WD 640 HDD $84.99

G.SKILL 4GB RAM $77.99

Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply - Retail $99.99

ASUS P5K EPU LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $114.99

GeForce 8500 GT 512MB 128-bit $56.99

ASUS 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model DRW-2014L1T - Retail $36.99

Vista Home SP1 64-bit $99.99

Total: $766.68

I'm nearing my budget total. Is this all I would need to build a PC now? I also included 2 SATA cables, a computer tool-kit, and an anti-static wrist band. And again, I really appreciate the replies.
August 25, 2008 5:25:58 PM

looking good. only other thing would be to upgrade gpu. some good recommendations above. but that is going to put you right at $800. would help escpecially with newer games. but this is a good set up and you can always get by with this and upgrade gpu at a later date. this setup should allow a nice gpu upgrade without having to change anything else so that is good.
August 25, 2008 5:33:55 PM

Thanks so much bdollar. One final question: I was looking at other configurations that were posted up and it seems like they have multiple fans (120mms). Will my PC not require any of those? Also, since I am buying the OEM version of the hdd, will I have to get screws for that as well?
August 25, 2008 5:45:51 PM

another option would be the antec 300. great case and has two big fans. i think a 120 and a 140mm fan. it is only $50. the antec earthwatts 500w is $55. so it would be $5 more than you are spending now for the combo but you would have that extra fan (case above just has 1 120mm).
August 25, 2008 6:04:15 PM

You shouldnt need any additional fans.

Screw wise, almost all cases come with a packet of screws so you should be covered there, if you dont have enough you can always steel some from an old computer, usually drives are held by 4 screws but you can safly secure it with only 3 screws or even 2 if you alternate the sides you screw in.
August 25, 2008 6:26:32 PM

Most of the rigs you're seeing with multiple case fans are overclocked (thus they're generating more heat and need more airflow to get it out of the case) Probably one intake fan on the front (most cases have this) should be adequate since a PSU is going to be exhausting hot air out the back. I think it was smart to ask about fans, but in your case it's not a huge deal. It sounds like the OP has really done his homework.
August 25, 2008 6:32:53 PM

i think the only fan on the sonata III is in the back? it has optional front fan. although i don't have any personal experience with that case so i don't know if that 1 in the back does the trick. have had a 300 with the 2 fans it comes with and it is a nice cool case. in the 300 the front fans are also optional but it has the big one (140mm) on top and the 120 in the back.

that being said it is probably like $5 - $7 to get an additional if he decides. :)  : )
August 25, 2008 6:52:36 PM

Yes, thanks again. I did replace the Antec Sonata III with the Antec 300 and the Antec Earthwatts 500w. Don't really want to take any chances, since this is the first computer I will build from scratch.
!